Taking statins could prevent around 9,500 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the over 50s, while the folk remedy of an apple a day could prevent or delay around 8,500 deaths - according to a study from the University of Oxford.
Researchers from the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford used mathematical models to test the health impacts of both scenarios - prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over, and prescribing a statin a day instead. They found around 1,000 more lives could be saved by statins.
Why are statins important?
Statins are drugs which lower the level of 'bad cholesterol' in your blood. High levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries. This can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease which includes conditions such as coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke.
If you are healthy but at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, your GP may prescribe statins for you, as they can help lower that risk.
Our Senior Cardiac Nurse, Maureen Talbot, said:
"The 'apple a day' message has survived for over a century, though now we encourage people to eat five different fruits and vegetables a day, not just one apple.
If you're unsure about your medication, speak to your doctor.
"However, while fruit is undoubtedly good for you, it shouldn't replace vital heart medicines, such as statins, prescribed by your doctor.
"This study reiterates that statins save lives. They are one of the safest medicines available and their benefits far outweigh any risks of side effects. If you're unsure about your medication, speak to your doctor as there are often different types or doses you could try."
The study was published in the British Medical Journal.
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